Dr Bart Wallet has been appointed professor of Jewish Studies: Early Modern and Modern Jewish History, with a special focus on Amsterdam, at the University of Amsterdam’s (UvA) Faculty of Humanities. The chair was established in collaboration with, and with support from, the Menasseh ben Israel Institute Foundation, which is an academic partnership for the promotion of Jewish Studies between the Jewish Cultural Quarter, the UvA and VU University Amsterdam. In establishing this chair, which is the first full-time chair for Jewish history in the Netherlands, the UvA is helping to strengthen Jewish studies in Europe.
Wallet specialises in Jewish history, with a special focus on early modern and contemporary Dutch Jewry. His research interests include early modern Yiddish historiography, integration policies for Jews in Dutch society, Jewish funeral culture, post-war reconstruction of Dutch Jewry, the place of Jewish religious rituals in secularising societies, and the use and transformation of the genres lukhot (Yiddish-Hebrew almanacs), sidurim and makhzorim (prayer books).
As professor of Jewish Studies, Wallet will focus on the history of Amsterdam’s Jewish community in an international context. Since the early modern period, the Jewish community has played an important role in Amsterdam society. Amsterdam has also been a crossroads of transnational Jewish history for centuries. From the end of the 16th century, Jews from Spain, Portugal, and Central and Eastern Europe sought refuge in Amsterdam, and from the 17th century, Jews from Amsterdam migrated to England, Brazil, Suriname, the Antilles and North America to settle. By the 18th century, Amsterdam had become the largest Jewish urban community in all of Europe. This gave Amsterdam a prominent place in the international Jewish world, which it retained until the 20th century. Since 1945, a decimated community has reshaped its Jewish identity in a radically changing international context. One of the focal points of Wallet’s teaching and research will be the historical development and current significance of Amsterdam as a ‘Jewish city’.
With the Bibliotheca Rosenthaliana, the Ets Haim/Livraria Montezinos, the Amsterdam Municipal Archives and the International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam has a rich collection of Jewish archives. These collections are an integral part of Wallet’s research.
Wallet studied History and Hebrew, Aramaic and Jewish Studies at the UvA. In 2012, he earned his PhD with a thesis on early modern Yiddish historiography in the north of the Netherlands. Following his PhD, he served as associate professor of Contemporary Jewish Studies at the Evangelical Theological Faculty in Leuven until 2019, having previously taught History of Jewry at KU Leuven. In 2015, he was a Dorset visiting fellow at the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies. Wallet has worked at the UvA since 2016 as a lecturer in Middle Eastern Studies, Hebrew and Jewish Studies. Since 2018, he has combined this position with roles as assistent professor of Political History at VU University Amsterdam and director of the HDC Centre for Religious History. He also teaches Jewish history at the Levisson Institute and the Jewish Educational Centre ‘Crescas’.
Wallet is editor of the academic journals Trajecta: Religion, Culture, Society in the Netherlands, Studia Rosenthaliana and the European Journal of Jewish Studies. He is a member of the Digital Forum of the European Association for Jewish Studies and of the advisory board of the SION-DIGIT project, which gathers notarial documents relating to the Jews in Venice, Bordeaux and Amsterdam from 1500-1700. He also holds various board and advisory positions outside the university, including as a member of the academic council of the Netherlands Israelite Seminary and co-secretary of the Netherlands Society for Jewish Studies, and as a member of the Committee for the History and Culture of the Jews in the Netherlands.